Although the BBC is best known for its resources for adult learners, the
Talk2 series struck me as being of potential use for secondary language
teachers, either in the classroom or as part of an independent study
programme, perhaps using a multimedia language lab.
I have reviewed the French, Spanish and Italian versions of Talk2, which
are aimed at those who have some linguistic knowledge. As such, it could
be use as a means of extension in years 8 and 9, but, as it was originally
intended to be of use to adults travelling abroad, the largely
transactional topic areas correlate exactly with those of GCSE and the
course covers the essential vocabulary and roleplay scenarios very
thoroughly. It is probably the listening material that I envisage to be of
most use to young learners. English is generally used as the language for
instructions; the course therefore lends itself to independent study as
students can readily access the exercises. The listening passages avoid
over-complexity (the drawback of many a GCSE textbook), are relatively
short but practise the key vocabulary of the topic very intensively, and
therefore constitute an ideal extension or reinforcement activity
particularly when independent learning may be taking place.
There is nevertheless a variety of other attractive activities for the
secondary teacher: grammar exercises are well constructed, but short
enough to prevent them becoming the sole focus of a lesson; written tasks
are very well suited to the demands of Higher Level GCSE; and there are
interesting reading comprehensions on topics of cultural interest. The
latter are clearly aimed at the adult learner wishing to discover more
about the culture into which he may be travelling, but are also the type
which motivate able teenage learners, bored of the ‘death by 100
baguettes’ approach of GCSE.
The problem of integrating such a resource into a scheme of work remains.
Although the cost (£14.99) is much reduced in comparison with previous
generations of adult language-learning resources, budgets will rarely
allow a class set to be purchased for an additional resource such as this.
The audio recordings may therefore perhaps be the easiest part of the
course to use. However, it also strikes me that this could be just the
thing for a motivated child seeking to teach himself an additional
language, or else in preparation for a 6th form GCSE or IB ab initio
course. There is certainly a great deal of potential in the resources
created by the BBC, but creativity will be needed by a school seeking to
integrate Talk2 into a broader Scheme of Work. With sufficient vision and
planning time, elements of Talk2 combined with the excellent resources on
the www.bbc.co.uk/languages website (particularly Ma France) could
greatly enhance our traditional GCSE fare.